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Trust, Persuasion and Manipulation

A revealing, provocative and insightful interview with Robin Dreeke.

Holding hands

It’s not often you get the chance to interview the head of behavioural analysis at the FBI, so when we happily ended up tweeting at one another I jumped at the chance to invite the rather wonderful Robin Dreeke on the show.

What ensued was one of the most exciting, revealing and eye-opening conversations I’ve ever had.

Robin’s one of these refreshingly honest, sparky people who just radiates charisma – even down a digital phone line. And the best thing is that after you’ve finished reading this post and listening to the podcast, you’ll be able to start using some of the key rapport-building techniques he mentions, straight away. Fun and useful. Fabulous.

I’ve picked out some of the gems from our chat to weave into this week’s blog post, and if you’re hungry for more, I highly recommend reading his book:

It’s Not All About Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone.

Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

What stops people from building trust?

Whether you’re trying to protect your country from ‘bad guys’ or you’re attempting to attract more customers online (really, what’s the difference?!), the biggest challenge you’ll face is around trust.

According to Robin, the biggest barrier to establishing trust is when you’re too interested in your own interests, and not in the other person’s.

You may have heard of Mehrabian’s research [1] on the fact that much of our communication is non-verbal. Well, this comes into play the most powerfully when someone’s verbal cues don’t match upwith their non-verbals. Any incongruence between what they’re saying and what their non-verbal indicators are showing, and we get that creepy feeling that sabotages any meaningful chance of trust.

TIP: So put the other person first, seek to understand their needs, and talk in terms of how you can help them with their wants, dreams and aspirations.

What’s the difference between persuasion and manipulation?

When it comes to real influence, the number one thing that Robin teaches is to leave the other human being feeling better for having met you.

“The difference between persuasion and manipulation is intent”

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He says that if you can let their brains reward them for engaging with you, even if your objectives (that you put second to their needs) aren’t met during that first encounter, it doesn’t matter. Why? Because:

“As long as they feel better for having met you, that’s influence. And they’ll want to meet again”

Manipulation on the other hand, is about feeling buyer’s remorse the second they walk away.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a few experiences with this – someone wants to meet you for breakfast after a busy conference, you set a time, they change it, turn up late, expect you to pay, and then tell you what a lovely morning they had. Umm, no.

TIP: Robin’s approach is a unique one – on principle, he outlaws all negative words and instead espouses the following:

“You look at the other human being, and you validate them non-judgmentally for who they are and the choices they’ve made in life”

Increase your sales

When it comes to sales, most of us could do with making a few more. The thing is that we often think we have to work aggressively towards achieving this goal. We like making quantitative changes to the stuff we can measure, often forgetting that emotional engagement is our most powerful tool in the box.

TIP: Robin says that if you are selling something (whatever that something is), your number one objective when you start the interaction, should be to do everything you can to make your customer’s situation more comfortable, and it’s up to them whether they accept your help or not.

“You’re empowering them with choice. Human beings do not like being told what to do, and they want to be offered choices – and you’re just going to offer them some choices about how they want to proceed.”

The same is true online – if you want to attract more customers, boost your conversions and make more sales, put your customers and their needs at the centre of your business. Empower them with good choices, offer them your help, ask for feedback.

And if they don’t buy from you this time, don’t worry – they’ll be more likely to want to meet again.

So… Enjoy this post? This is just a teaser of what Robin Dreeke and I talked about. Listen to the whole recording here.

Come back next week when I’ll be writing about our next special guest, and sharing their expert advice with you on how to use the secret psychology of persuasion to increase your online influence.

[1] A. Mehrabian (1972) Nonverbal communication. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, 1972.